From: Memories, Dreams, Reflections. By C. G. Jung
Recorded And Edited By Aniela Jaffé.(abbreviated in the footnotes as AJ)
This is the last chapter of the book, and represents Jungs final thoughts on some eternal questions about human nature. He died in 1961, and it was published in 1962.
ANY BIOGRAPHY of myself must, I think, take account of the following reflections. It is true that they may well strike others as highly theoretical, but making “theory” 1 of this sort is as much a part of me, as vital a function of mine, as eating and drinking.
What is remarkable about Christianity is that in its system of dogma it anticipates a metamorphosis in the divinity, a process of historic change on the “other side.” It does this in the form of the new myth of dissension in heaven, first alluded to in the creation myth in which a serpent-like antagonist of the Creator appears, and lures man to disobedience by the promise of increased conscious knowledge (scientes bonum et malum), The second allusion is to the fall of the angels, a premature invasion of the human world by unconscious contents. The angels are a strange genus: they are precisely what they are and cannot be anything else. They are in themselves soulless beings who represent nothing but the thoughts and intuitions of their Lord. Angels who fall, then, are exclusively “bad” angels. These release the well-known effect of “inflation” which we can also observe nowadays in the megalomania of dictators: the angels beget with men a race of giants which ends by threatening to devour mankind, as is told in the book of Enoch.
The third and decisive stage of the myth, however, is the self-realization of God in human form, in fulfillment of the Old Testament idea of the divine marriage and its consequences. As early as the period of primitive Christianity, the idea of the incarnation had been refined to include the intuition of “Christ within us.” Thus the unconscious wholeness penetrated into the psychic realm of inner experience, and man was made aware of all that entered into his true configuration. This was a decisive step, not only for man, but also for the Creator Who, in the eyes of those who had been delivered from darkness, cast off His dark qualities and became the summum bonum.
This myth remained unassailably vital for a millennium until the first signs of a further transformation of consciousness began appearing in the eleventh century. 2 From then on, the symptoms of unrest and doubt increased, until at the end of the second millennium the outlines of a universal catastrophe became apparent, at first in the form of a threat to consciousness. This threat consists in giantism, in other words, a hubris of consciousness in the assertion: “Nothing is greater than man and his deeds.” The otherworldliness, the transcendence of the Christian myth was lost, and with it the view that wholeness is achieved in the other world.
Light is followed by shadow, the other side of the Creator. This development reached its peak in the twentieth century. The Christian world is now truly confronted by the principle of evil, by naked injustice, tyranny, lies, slavery, and coercion of conscience. This manifestation of naked evil has assumed apparently permanent form in the Russian nation; but its first violent eruption came in Germany. That outpouring of evil revealed to what extent Christianity has been undermined in the twentieth century. In the face of that, evil can no longer be minimized by the euphemism of the privatio boni. Evil has become a determinant reality. It can no longer be dismissed from the world by a circumlocution. We must learn how to handle it, since it is here to stay. How we can live with it without terrible consequences cannot for the present be conceived.
In any case, we stand in need of a reorientation, a metanoia. Touching evil brings with it the grave peril of succumbing to it. We must, therefore, no longer succumb to anything at all, not even to good. A so-called good to which we succumb loses its ethical character. Not that there is anything bad in it on that score, but to have succumbed to it may breed trouble. Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism. We must beware of thinking of good and evil as absolute opposites. The criterion of ethical action can no longer consist in the simple view that good has the force of a categorical imperative, while so-called evil can resolutely be shunned. Recognition of the reality of evil necessarily relativizes the good, and the evil likewise, converting both into halves of a paradoxical whole.
In practical terms, this means that good and evil are no longer so self-evident. We have to realize that each represents a judgment. In view of the fallibility of all human judgment, we cannot believe that we will always judge rightly. We might so easily be the victims of misjudgment. The ethical problem is affected by this principle only to the extent that we become somewhat uncertain about moral evaluations. Nevertheless we have to make ethical decisions. The relativity of “good” and “evil” by no means signifies that these categories are invalid, or do not exist. Moral judgment is always present and carries with it characteristic psychological consequences. I have pointed out many times that as in the past, so in the future the wrong we have done, thought, or intended will wreak its vengeance on our souls. Only the contents of judgment are subject to the differing conditions of time and place and, therefore, take correspondingly different forms. For moral evaluation is always founded upon the apparent certitudes of a moral code which pretends to know precisely what is good and what evil. But once we know how uncertain the foundation is, ethical decision becomes a subjective, creative act. We can convince ourselves of its validity only Deo concedente that is, there must be a spontaneous and decisive impulse on the part of the unconscious.
Ethics itself, the decision between good and evil, is not affected by this impulse, only made more difficult for us. Nothing can spare us the torment of ethical decision. Nevertheless, harsh as it may sound, we must have the freedom in some circumstances to avoid the known moral good and do what is considered to be evil, if our ethical decision so requires. In other words, again: we must not succumb to either of the opposites. A useful pattern is provided by the neti-neti of Indian philosophy. In given cases, the moral code is undeniably abrogated and ethical choice is left to the individual. In itself there is nothing new about this idea; in pre-psychology days such difficult choices were also known and came under the heading of “conflict of duties”
As a rule, however, the individual is so unconscious that he altogether fails to see his own potentialities for decision. Instead he is constantly and anxiously looking around for external rules and regulations which can guide him in his perplexity. Aside from general human inadequacy, a good deal of the blame for this rests with education, which promulgates the old generalizations and says nothing about the secrets of private experience. Thus, every effort is made to teach idealistic beliefs or conduct which people know in their hearts they can never live up to, and such ideals are preached by officials who know that they themselves have never lived up to these high standards and never will. What is more, nobody ever questions the value of this kind of teaching.
Therefore the individual who wishes to have an answer to the problem of evil, as it is posed today, has need, first and foremost, of self-knowledge, that is, the utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness. He must know relentlessly how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of, and must beware of regarding the one as real and the other as illusion. Both are elements within his nature, and both are bound to come to light in him, should he wish as he ought to live without self-deception or self-delusion.
In general, however, most people are hopelessly ill-equipped for living on this level, although there are also many persons today who have the capacity for more profound insight into themselves. Such self-knowledge is of prime importance, because through it we approach that fundamental stratum or core of human nature where the instincts dwell. Here are those pre-existent dynamic factors which ultimately govern the ethical decisions of our consciousness. This core is the unconscious and its contents, concerning which we cannot pass any final judgment. Our ideas about it are bound to be inadequate, for we are unable to comprehend its essence cognitively and set rational limits to it. We achieve knowledge of nature only through science, which enlarges consciousness; hence deepened self-knowledge also requires science, that is, psychology. No one builds a telescope or microscope with one turn of the wrist, out of good will alone, without a knowledge of optics.
Today we need psychology for reasons that involve our very existence. We stand perplexed and stupefied before the phenomenon of Nazism and Bolshevism because we know nothing about man, or at any rate have only a lopsided and distorted picture of him. If we had self-knowledge, that would not be the case. We stand face to face with the terrible question of evil and do not even know what is before us, let alone what to pit against it. And even if we did know, we still could not understand “how it could happen here.” With glorious naivete, a statesman comes out with the proud declaration that he has no “imagination for evil”. Quite right: we have no imagination for evil, but evil has us in its grip. Some do not want to know this, and others are identified with evil. That is the psychological situation in the world today: some call themselves Christian and imagine that they can trample so-called evil underfoot by merely willing to; others have succumbed to it and no longer see the good. Evil today has become a visible Great Power. One-half of humanity battens and grows strong on a doctrine fabricated by human ratiocination; the other half sickens from the lack of a myth commensurate with the situation. The Christian nations have come to a sorry pass; their Christianity slumbers and has neglected to develop its myth further in the course of the centuries.
Those who gave expression to the dark stirrings of growth in mythic ideas were refused a hearing; Gioacchino da Fiore, Meister Eckhart, Jacob Boehme, and many others have remained obscurantists for the majority. The only ray of light is Pius XII and his dogma. 3 But people do not even know what I am referring to when I say this. They do not realize that a myth is dead if it no longer lives and grows.
Our myth has become mute, and gives no answers. The fault lies not in it as it is set down in the Scriptures, but solely in us, who have not developed it further, who, rather, have suppressed any such attempts. The original version of the myth offers ample points of departure and possibilities of development. For example, the words are put into Christ’s mouth: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” For what purpose do men need the cunning of serpents? And what is the link between this cunning and the innocence of the dove? “Except ye become as little children…” Who gives thought to what children are like in reality? By what morality did the Lord justify the taking of the ass which he needed in order to ride in triumph into Jerusalem? How was it that, shortly afterward, he put on a display of childish bad temper and cursed the fig tree?
What kind of morality emerges from the parable of the unjust steward, and what profound insight, of such far-reaching significance for our own predicament, from the apocryphal logion:
“Man, if thou knowest what thou dost, thou art blessed; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed and a transgressor of the law”? 4
What, finally, does it mean when St. Paul confesses: “The evil which I would not, that I do”? I will not discuss the transparent prophecies of the Book of Revelation, because no one believes in them and the whole subject is felt to be an embarrassing one.
The old question posed by the Gnostics, “Whence comes evil?” has been given no answer by the Christian world, and Origen’s cautious suggestion of a possible redemption of the devil was termed a heresy. Today we are compelled to meet that question; but we stand empty-handed, bewildered, and perplexed, and cannot even get it into our heads that no myth will come to our aid although we have such urgent need of one. As the result of the political situation and the frightful, not to say diabolic, triumphs of science, we are shaken by secret shudders and dark forebodings; but we know no way out, and very few persons indeed draw the conclusion that this time the issue is the long-since-forgotten soul of man.
A further development of myth might well begin with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, by which they were made into sons of God, and not only they, but all others who through them and after them received the filiatio— sonship of God-and thus partook of the certainty that they were more than autochthonous animalia sprung from the earth, that as the twice-born they had their roots in the divinity itself. Their visible, physical life was on this earth; but the invisible inner man had come from and would return to the primordial image of wholeness, to the eternal Father, as the Christian myth of salvation puts it.
Just as the Creator is whole, so His creature, His son, ought to be whole. Nothing can take away from the concept of divine wholeness. But unbeknownst to all, a splitting of that wholeness ensued; there emerged a realm of light and a realm of darkness. This outcome, even before Christ appeared, was clearly prefigured, as we may observe inter alia in the experience of Job, or in the widely disseminated Book of Enoch, which belongs to immediate pre-Christian times. In Christianity, too, this meta-physical split was plainly perpetuated: Satan, who in the Old Testament still belonged to the intimate entourage of Yahweh, now formed the diametrical and eternal opposite of the divine world. He could not be uprooted. It is therefore not surprising that as early as the beginning of the eleventh century the belief arose that the devil, not God, had created the world. Thus the keynote was struck for the second half of the Christian aeon, after the myth of the fall of the angels had already explained that these fallen angels had taught men a dangerous knowledge of science and the arts. What would these old storytellers have to say about Hiroshima?
The visionary genius of Jacob Boehme recognized the paradoxical nature of the God-image and thus contributed to the further development of the myth. The mandala symbol sketched by Boehme 5 is a representation of the split God, for the inner circle is divided into two semicircles standing back to back.
Since dogma holds that God is wholly present in each of the three Persons, He is also wholly present in each part of the outpoured Holy Spirit; thus every man can partake of the whole of God and hence of the filiation. The complexio oppositorum of the God-image thus enters into man, and not as unity, but as conflict, the dark half of the image coming into opposition with the accepted view that God is “Light.” This very process is taking place in our own times, albeit scarcely recognized by the official teachers of humanity whose task, supposedly, is to understand such matters. There is the general feeling, to be sure, that we have reached a significant turning point in the ages, but people imagine that the great change has to do with nuclear fission and fusion, or with space rockets. What is concurrently taking place in the human psyche is usually overlooked.
Insofar as the God-image is, from the psychological point of view, a manifestation of the ground of the psyche, and insofar as the cleavage in that image is becoming clear to mankind as a profound dichotomy which penetrates even into world politics, a compensation has arisen. This takes the form of circular symbols of unity which represent a synthesis of the opposites within the psyche. I refer to the worldwide rumors of Unidentified Flying Objects, of which we began to hear as early as 1943. These rumors are founded either upon visions or upon actual phenomena. The usual story about the UFOs is that they are some kind of spacecraft coming from other planets or even from the fourth dimension.
More than twenty years earlier (in 1918), in the course of my investigations of the collective unconscious, I discovered the presence of an apparently universal symbol of a similar type the mandala symbol. To make sure of my case, I spent more than a decade amassing additional data, before announcing my discovery for the first time. 6 The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of the self. This circular image represents the wholeness of the psychic ground or, to put it in mythic terms, the divinity incarnate in man. In contrast to Boehme’s mandala, the modern ones strive for unity; they represent a compensation of the psychic cleavage, or an anticipation that the cleavage will be surmounted. Since this process takes place in the collective unconscious, it manifests itself everywhere. The worldwide stories of the UFOs are evidence of that; they are the symptom of a universally present psychic disposition.
Insofar as analytical treatment makes the “shadow” conscious, it causes a cleavage and a tension of opposites which in their turn seek compensation in unity. The adjustment is achieved through symbols. The conflict between the opposites can strain our psyche to the breaking point, if we take them seriously, or if they take us seriously. The tertium non datur of logic proves its worth: no solution can be seen. If all goes well, the solution, seemingly of its own accord, appears out of nature. Then and then only is it convincing. It is felt as “grace” Since the solution proceeds out of the confrontation and clash of opposites, it is usually an unfathomable mixture of conscious and unconscious factors, and therefore a symbol, a coin split into two halves which fit together precisely. 7 It represents the result of the joint labors of consciousness and the unconscious, and attains the likeness of the God-image in the form of the mandala, which is probably the simplest model of a concept of wholeness, and one which spontaneously arises in the mind as a representation of the struggle and reconciliation of opposites. The clash, which is at first of a purely personal nature, is soon followed by the insight that the subjective conflict is only a single instance of the universal conflict of opposites. Our psyche is set up in accord with the structure of the universe, and what happens in the macrocosm likewise happens in the infinitesimal and most subjective reaches of the psyche. For that reason the God-image is always a projection of the inner experience of a powerful vis-a-vis. This is symbolized by objects from which the inner experience has taken its initial impulse, and which from then on preserve numinous significance, or else it is characterized by its numinosity and the overwhelming force of that numinosity. In this way the imagination liberates itself from the concretism of the object and attempts to sketch the image of the invisible as something which stands behind the phenomenon. I am thinking here of the simplest basic form of the mandala, the circle, and the simplest (mental) division of the circle, the quadrant or, as the case may be, the cross.
Such experiences have a helpful or, it may be, annihilating effect upon man. He cannot grasp, comprehend, dominate them; nor can he free himself or escape from them, and therefore feels them as overpowering. Recognizing that they do not spring from his conscious personality, he calls them mana, daimon, or God. Science employs the term “the unconscious,” thus admitting that it knows nothing about it, for it can know nothing about the substance of the psyche when the sole means of knowing anything is the psyche. Therefore the validity of such terms as mana, daimon, or God can be neither disproved nor affirmed. We can, however, establish that the sense of strangeness connected with the experience of something objective, apparently outside the psyche, is indeed authentic.
We know that something unknown, alien, does come our way, just as we know that we do not ourselves make a dream or an inspiration, but that it somehow arises of its own accord. What does happen to us in this manner can be said to emanate from mana, from a daimon, a god, or the unconscious. The first three terms have the great merit of including and evoking the emotional quality of numinosity, whereas the latter the unconscious is banal and therefore closer to reality. This latter concept includes the empirical realm that is, the commonplace reality we know so well. The unconscious is too neutral and rational a term to give much impetus to the imagination. The term, after all, was coined for scientific purposes, and is far better suited to dispassionate observation which makes no meta-physical claims than are the transcendental concepts, which are controversial and therefore tend to breed fanaticism.
Hence I prefer the term “the unconscious,” knowing that I might equally well speak of “God” or “daimon” if I wished to express myself in mythic language. When I do use such mythic language, I am aware that “mana,” “daimon,” and “God” are synonyms for the unconscious that is to say, we know just as much or just as little about them as about the latter. People only believe they know much more about them and for certain purposes that belief is far more useful and effective than a scientific concept. The great advantage of the concepts “daimon” and “God” lies in making possible a much better objectification of the vis-a-vis, namely, a personification of it. Their emotional quality confers life and effectuality upon them. Hate and love, fear and reverence, enter the scene of the confrontation and raise it to a drama. What has merely been “displayed” becomes “acted.” 8 The whole man is challenged and enters the fray with his total reality. Only then can he become whole and only then can “God be born,” that is, enter into human reality and associate with man in the form of “man.” By this act of incarnation man that is, his ego is inwardly replaced by “God,” and God becomes outwardly man, in keeping with the saying of Jesus: “Who sees me, sees the Father.”
It is at this point that the shortcomings of mythic terminology become apparent. The Christian’s ordinary conception of God is of an omnipotent, omniscient, and all-merciful Father and Creator of the world. If this God wishes to become man, an incredible kenosis (emptying) 9 is required of Him, in order to reduce His totality to the infinitesimal human scale. Even then it is hard to see why the human frame is not shattered by the incarnation. Theological thinkers have therefore felt it necessary to equip Jesus with qualities which raise him above ordinary human existence. Above all he lacks the macula peccati (stain of original sin). For that reason, if for no other, he is at least a god-man or a demigod. The Christian God-image cannot become incarnate in empirical man without contradictions quite apart from the fact that man with all his external characteristics seems little suited to representing a god.
The myth must ultimately take monotheism seriously and put aside its dualism, which, however much repudiated officially, has persisted until now and enthroned an eternal dark antagonist alongside the omnipotent Good. Room must be made within the system for the philosophical complexio oppositorum of Nicholas of Cusa and the moral ambivalence of Jacob Boehme; only thus can the One God be granted the wholeness and the synthesis of opposites which should be His. It is a fact that symbols, by their very nature, can so unite the opposites that these no longer diverge or clash, but mutually supplement one another and give meaningful shape to life. Once that has been experienced, the ambivalence in the image of a nature-god or Creator-god ceases to present difficulties. On the contrary, the myth of the necessary incarnation of God the essence of the Christian message can then be understood as man’s creative confrontation with the opposites and their synthesis in the self, the wholeness of his personality. The unavoidable internal contradictions in the image of a Creator-god can be reconciled in the unity and wholeness of the self as the coniunctio oppositorum of the alchemists or as a unio mystica. In the experience of the self it is no longer the opposites “God” and “man” that are reconciled, as it was before, but rather the opposites within the God-image itself. That is the meaning of divine service, of the service which man can render to God, that light may emerge from the darkness, that the Creator may become conscious of His creation, and man conscious of himself.
That is the goal, or one goal, which fits man meaningfully into the scheme of creation, and at the same time confers meaning upon it. It is an explanatory myth which has slowly taken shape within me in the course of the decades. It is a goal I can acknowledge and esteem, and which therefore satisfies me.
By virtue of his reflective faculties, man is raised out of the animal world, and by his mind he demonstrates that nature has put a high premium precisely upon the development of consciousness. Through consciousness he takes possession of nature by recognizing the existence of the world and thus, as it were, confirming the Creator. The world becomes the phenomenal world, for without conscious reflection it would not be. If the Creator were conscious of Himself, He would not need conscious creatures; nor is it probable that the extremely indirect methods of creation, which squander millions of years upon the development of countless species and creatures, are the outcome of purposeful intention. Natural history tells us of a haphazard and casual transformation of species over hundreds of millions of years of devouring and being devoured. The biological and political history of man is an elaborate repetition of the same thing. But the history of the mind offers a different picture. Here the miracle of reflecting consciousness intervenes the second cosmogony. The importance of consciousness is so great that one cannot help suspecting the element of meaning to be concealed somewhere within all the monstrous, apparently senseless biological turmoil, and that the road to its manifestation was ultimately found on the level of warm-blooded vertebrates possessed of a differentiated brain found as if by chance, unintended and unforeseen, and yet somehow sensed, felt and groped for out of some dark urge.
I do not imagine that in my reflections on the meaning of man and his myth I have uttered a final truth, but I think that this is what can be said at the end of our aeon of the Fishes, and perhaps must be said in view of the coming aeon of Aquarius (the Water Bearer), who has a human figure and is next to the sign of the Fishes. This is a coniunctio oppositorum composed of two fishes in reverse. The Water Bearer seems to represent the self. With a sovereign gesture he pours the contents of his jug into the mouth of Piscis austrinus which symbolizes a son, a still unconscious content. Out of this unconscious content will emerge, after the passage of another aeon of more than two thousand years, a future whose features are indicated by the symbol of Capricorn: an aigokeros, the monstrosity of the Goat-Fish, 10 symbolizing the mountains and the depths of the sea, a polarity made up of two undifferentiated animal elements which have grown together. This strange being could easily be the primordial image of a Creator-god confronting “man,” the Anthropos. On this question there is a silence within me, as there is in the empirical data at my disposal the products of the unconscious of other people with which I am acquainted, or historical documents. If insight does not come by itself, speculation is pointless. It makes sense only when we have objective data comparable to our material on the aeon of Aquarius.
We do not know how far the process of coming to consciousness can extend, or where it will lead. It is a new element in the story of creation, and there are no parallels we can look to. We therefore cannot know what potentialities are inherent in it. Neither can we know the prospects for the species Homo sapiens. Will it imitate the fate of other species, which once flourished on the earth and now are extinct? Biology can advance no reasons why this should not be so.
The need for mythic statements is satisfied when we frame a view of the world which adequately explains the meaning of human existence in the cosmos, a view which springs from our psychic wholeness, from the co-operation between conscious and unconscious. Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable perhaps everything. No science will ever replace myth, and a myth cannot be made out of any science. For it is not that “God” is a myth, but that myth is the revelation of a divine life in man. It is not we who invent myth, rather it speaks to us as a Word of God. The Word of God comes to us, and we have no way of distinguishing whether and to what extent it is different from God. There is nothing about this Word that could not be considered known and human, except for the manner in which it confronts us spontaneously and places obligations upon us. It is not affected by the arbitrary operation of our will. We cannot explain an inspiration. Our chief feeling about it is that it is not the result of our own ratiocinations, but that it came to us from elsewhere. And if we happen to have a precognitive dream, how can we possibly ascribe it to our own powers? After all, often we do not even know, until some time afterward, that the dream represented foreknowledge, or knowledge of something that happened at a distance.
The Word happens to us; we suffer it, for we are victims of a profound uncertainty: with God as a complexio oppositorum, all things are possible, in the fullest meaning of the phrase. Truth and delusion, good and evil, are equally possible. Myth is or can be equivocal, like the oracle of Delphi or like a dream. We cannot and ought not to repudiate reason; but equally we must cling to the hope that instinct will hasten to our aid in which case God is supporting us against God, as Job long ago understood. Everything through which the “other will” is expressed proceeds from man his thinking, his words, his images, and even his limitations. Consequently he has the tendency to refer everything to himself, when he begins to think in clumsy psychological terms, and decides that everything proceeds out of his intentions and out of himself. With childlike naivete he assumes that he knows all his own reaches and knows what he is “in himself.” Yet all the while he is fatally handicapped by the weakness of his consciousness and the corresponding fear of the unconscious. Therefore he is utterly unable to separate what he has carefully reasoned out from what has spontaneously flowed to him from another source. He has no objectivity toward himself and cannot yet regard himself as a phenomenon which he finds in existence and with which, for better or worse, he is identical. At first everything is thrust upon him, everything happens to him, and it is only by great effort that he finally succeeds in conquering and holding for himself an area of relative freedom.
Only when he has won his way to this achievement, and then only, is he in a position to recognize that he is confronting his instinctive foundations, given him from the beginning, which he cannot make disappear, however much he would like to. His beginnings are not by any means mere pasts; they live with him as the constant substratum of his existence, and his consciousness is as much molded by them as by the physical world around him.
These facts assail man from without and from within with overwhelming force. He has summed them up under the idea of divinity, has described their effects with the aid of myth, and has interpreted this myth as the “Word of God,” that is, as the inspiration and revelation of the numen from the “other side.”
There is no better means of intensifying the treasured feeling of individuality than the possession of a secret which the individual is pledged to guard. The very beginnings of societal structures reveal the craving for secret organizations. When no valid secrets really exist, mysteries are invented or contrived to which privileged initiates are admitted. Such was the case with the Rosicrucians and many other societies. Among these pseudo-secrets there are ironically real secrets of which the initiates are entirely unaware as, for example, in those societies which borrowed their “secret” primarily from the alchemical tradition.
The need for ostentatious secrecy is of vital importance on the primitive level, for the shared secret serves as a cement binding the tribe together. Secrets on the tribal level constitute a helpful compensation for lack of cohesion in the individual personality, which is constantly relapsing into the original unconscious identity with other members of the group. Attainment of the human goal an individual who is conscious of his own peculiar nature thus becomes a long, almost hopeless process of education. For even the individuals whose initiation into certain secrets has marked them out in some way are fundamentally obeying the laws of group identity, though in their case the group is a socially differentiated one.
The secret society is an intermediary stage on the way to individuation. The individual is still relying on a collective organization to effect his differentiation for him; that is, he has not yet recognized that it is really the individual’s task to differentiate himself from all the others and stand on his own feet. All collective identities, such as membership in organizations, support of “isms,” and so on, interfere with the fulfillment of this task. Such collective identities are crutches for the lame, shields for the timid, beds for the lazy, nurseries for the irresponsible; but they are equally shelters for the poor and weak, a home port for the shipwrecked, the bosom of a family for orphans, a land of promise for disillusioned vagrants and weary pilgrims, a herd and a safe fold for lost sheep, and a mother providing nourishment and growth. It would therefore be wrong to regard this intermediary stage as a trap; on the contrary, for a long time to come it will represent the only possible form of existence for the individual, who nowadays seems more than ever threatened by anonymity. Collective organization is still so essential today that many consider it, with some justification, to be the final goal; whereas to call for further steps along the road to autonomy appears like arrogance or hubris, fantasticality, or simply folly.
Nevertheless it may be that for sufficient reasons a man feels he must set out on his own feet along the road to wider realms. It may be that in all the garbs, shapes, forms, modes, and manners of life offered to him he does not find what is peculiarly necessary for him. He will go alone and be his own company. He will serve as his own group, consisting of a variety of opinions and tendencies which need not necessarily be marching in the same direction. In fact, he will be at odds with himself, and will find great difficulty in uniting his own multiplicity for purposes of common action. Even if he is outwardly protected by the social forms of the intermediary stage, he will have no defense against his inner multiplicity. The disunion within himself may cause him to give up, to lapse into identity with his surroundings.
Like the initiate of a secret society who has broken free from the undifferentiated collectivity, the individual on his lonely path needs a secret which for various reasons he may not or cannot reveal. Such a secret reinforces him in the isolation of his individual aims. A great many individuals cannot bear this isolation. They are the neurotics, who necessarily play hide-and-seek with others as well as with themselves, without being able to take the game really seriously. As a rule they end by surrendering their individual goal to their craving for collective conformity a procedure which all the opinions, beliefs, and ideals of their environment encourage. Moreover, no rational arguments prevail against the environment. Only a secret which the individual cannot betray one which he fears to give away, or which he cannot formulate in words, and which therefore seems to belong to the category of crazy ideas can prevent the otherwise inevitable retrogression.
The need for such a secret is in many cases so compelling that the individual finds himself involved in ideas and actions for which he is no longer responsible. He is being motivated neither by caprice nor arrogance, but by a dira necessitas which he himself cannot comprehend. This necessity comes down upon him with savage fatefulness, and perhaps for the first time in his life demonstrates to him ad oculos the presence of something alien and more powerful than himself in his own most personal domain, where he thought himself the master. A vivid example is the story of Jacob, who wrestled with the angel and came away with a dislocated hip, but by his struggle prevented a murder. In those fortunate days, Jacob’s story was believed without question. A contemporary Jacob, telling such a tale, would be treated to meaningful smiles. He would prefer not to speak of such matters, especially if he were inclined to have his private views about the nature of Yahweh’s messenger. Thus he would find himself willy-nilly in possession of a secret that could not be discussed, and would become a deviant from the collectivity. Naturally, his mental reservation would ultimately come to light, unless he succeeded in playing the hypocrite all his life. But anyone who attempts to do both, to adjust to his group and at the same time pursue his individual goal, becomes neurotic. Our modern Jacob would be concealing from himself the fact that the angel was after all the stronger of the two as he certainly was, for no claims were ever made that the angel, too, came away with a limp.
The man, therefore, who, driven by his daimon, steps beyond the limits of the intermediary stage, truly enters the “untrodden, untreadable regions”. 11 where there are no charted ways and no shelter spreads a protecting roof over his head. There are no precepts to guide him when he encounters an unforeseen situation for example, a conflict of duties. For the most part, these sallies into no man’s land last only as long as no such conflicts occur, and come swiftly to an end as soon as conflict is sniffed from afar. I cannot blame the person who takes to his heels at once. But neither can I approve his finding merit in his weakness and cowardice. Since my contempt can do him no further harm, I may as well say that I find nothing praiseworthy about such capitulations.
But if a man faced with a conflict of duties undertakes to deal with them absolutely on his own responsibility, and before a judge who sits in judgment on him day and night, he may well find himself in an isolated position. There is now an authentic secret in his life which cannot be discussed if only because he is involved in an endless inner trial in which he is his own counsel and ruthless examiner, and no secular or spiritual judge can restore his easy sleep. If he were not already sick to death of the decisions of such judges, he would never have found himself in a conflict. For such a conflict always presupposes a higher sense of responsibility. It is this very quality which keeps its possessor from accepting the decision of a collectivity. In his case the court is transposed to the inner world where the verdict is pronounced behind closed doors.
Once this happens, the psyche of the individual acquires heightened importance. It is not only the seat of his well-known and socially defined ego; it is also the instrument for measuring what it is worth in and for itself. Nothing so promotes the growth of consciousness as this inner confrontation of opposites. Quite unsuspected facts turn up in the indictment, and the defense is obliged to discover arguments hitherto unknown. In the course of this, a considerable portion of the outer world reaches the inner, and by that very fact the outer world is impoverished or relieved. On the other hand, the inner world has gained that much weight by being raised to the rank of a tribunal for ethical decisions. However, the once unequivocal ego loses the prerogative of being merely the prosecutor; it must also learn the role of defendant. The ego becomes ambivalent arid ambiguous, and is caught between hammer and anvil. It becomes aware of a polarity superordinate to itself.
By no means every conflict of duties, and perhaps not even a single one, is ever really “solved,” though it may be argued over, weighed, and counterweighed till doomsday. Sooner or later the decision is simply there, the product, it would seem, of some kind of short-circuit. Practical life cannot be suspended in an everlasting contradiction. The opposites and the contradictions between them do not vanish, however, even when for a moment they yield before the impulse to action. They constantly threaten the unity of the personality, and entangle life again and again in their dichotomies.
Insight into the dangers and the painfulness of such a state might well decide one to stay at home, that is, never to leave the safe fold and the warm cocoon, since these alone promise protection from inner stress. Those who do not have to leave father and mother are certainly safest with them. A good many persons, however, find themselves thrust out upon the road to individuation. In no time at all they will become acquainted with the positive and negative aspects of human nature.
Just as all energy proceeds from opposition, so the psyche too possesses its inner polarity, this being the indispensable prerequisite for its aliveness, as Heraclitus realized long ago. Both theoretically and practically, polarity is inherent in all living things. Set against this overpowering force is the fragile unity of the ego, which has come into being in the course of millennia only with the aid of countless protective measures. That an ego was possible at all appears to spring from the fact that all opposites seek to achieve a state of balance. This happens in the exchange of energy which results from the collision of hot and cold, high and low, and so on. The energy underlying conscious psychic life is pre-existent to it and therefore at first unconscious. As it approaches consciousness it first appears projected in figures like mana, gods, daimons, etc., whose numen seems to be the vital source of energy, and in point of fact is so as long as these supernatural figures are accepted. But as these fade and lose their force, the ego that is, the empirical man seems to come into possession of this source of energy, and does so in the fullest meaning of this ambiguous statement: on the one hand he seeks to seize this energy, to possess it, and even imagines that he does possess it; and on the other hand he is possessed by it.
This grotesque situation can, to be sure, occur only when the contents of consciousness are regarded as the sole form of psychic existence. Where this is the case, there is no preventing inflation by projections coming home to roost. But where the existence of an unconscious psyche is admitted, the contents of projection can be received into the inborn instinctive forms which predate consciousness. Their objectivity and autonomy are thereby preserved, and inflation is avoided. The archetypes, which are pre-existent to consciousness and condition it, appear in the part they actually play in reality: as a priori structural forms of the stuff of consciousness. They do not in any sense represent things as they are in themselves, but rather the forms in which things can be perceived and conceived. Naturally, it is not merely the archetypes that govern the particular nature of perceptions. They account only for the collective component of a perception. As an attribute of instinct they partake of its dynamic nature, and consequently possess a specific energy which causes or compels definite modes of behavior or impulses; that is, they may under certain circumstances have a possessive or obsessive force (numinosityl). The conception of them as daimonia is therefore quite in accord with their nature.
If anyone is inclined to believe that any aspect of the nature of things is changed by such formulations, he is being extremely credulous about words. The real facts do not change, whatever names we give them. Only we ourselves are affected. If one were to conceive of “God” as “pure Nothingness,” that has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact of a superordinate principle. We are just as much possessed as before; the change of name has removed nothing at all from reality. At most we have taken a false attitude toward reality if the new name implies a denial. On the other hand, a positive name for the unknowable has the merit of putting us into a correspondingly positive attitude. If, therefore, we speak of “God” as an “archetype,” we are saying nothing about His real nature but are letting it be known that “God” already has a place in that part of our psyche which is pre-existent to consciousness and that He therefore cannot be considered an invention of consciousness. We neither make Him more remote nor eliminate Him, but bring Him closer to the possibility of being experienced. This latter circumstance is by no means unimportant, for a thing which cannot be experienced may easily be suspected of non-existence. This suspicion is so inviting that so-called believers in God see nothing but atheism in my attempt to reconstruct the primitive unconscious psyche. Or if not atheism, then Gnosticism anything, heaven forbid, but a psychic reality like the unconscious. If the unconscious is anything at all, it must consist of earlier evolutionary stages of our conscious psyche. The assumption that man in his whole glory was created on the sixth day of Creation, without any preliminary stages, is after all somewhat too simple and archaic to satisfy us nowadays. There is pretty general agreement on that score. In regard to the psyche, however, the archaic conception holds on tenaciously: the psyche has no antecedents, is a tabula rasa, arises anew at birth, and is only what it imagines itself to be.
Consciousness is phylogenetically and ontogenetically a secondary phenomenon. It is time this obvious fact were grasped at last. Just as the body has an anatomical prehistory of millions of years, so also does the psychic system. And just as the human body today represents in each of its parts the result of this evolution, and everywhere still shows traces of its earlier stages so the same may be said of the psyche. Consciousness began its evolution from an animal-like state which seems to us unconscious, and the same process of differentiation is repeated in every child. The psyche of the child in its reconscious state is anything but a tabula rasa; it is already preformed in a recognizably individual way, and is moreover equipped with all specifically human instincts, as well as with the a priori foundations of the higher functions.
On this complicated base, the ego arises. Throughout life the ego is sustained by this base. When the base does not function, stasis ensues and then death. Its life and its reality are of vital importance. Compared to it, even the external world is secondary, for what does the world matter if the endogenous impulse to grasp it and manipulate it is lacking? In the long run no conscious will can ever replace the life instinct. This instinct comes to us from within, as a compulsion or will or command, and-if as has more or less been done from time immemorial-we give it the name of a personal daimon we are at least aptly expressing the psychological situation. And if, by employing the concept of the archetype, we attempt to define a little more closely the point at which the daimon grips us, we have not abolished anything, only approached closer to the source of life.
It is only natural that I as a psychiatrist (doctor of the soul) should espouse such a view, for I am primarily interested in how I can help my patients find their healthy base again. To do that, a great variety of knowledge is needed, as I have learned. Medicine in general has, after all, proceeded in like manner. It has not made its advances through the discovery of some single trick of healing, thus phenomenally simplifying its methods. On the contrary, it has evolved into a science of enormous complexity not the least of the reasons being that it has made borrowings from all possible fields. Hence I am not concerned with proving anything to other disciplines; I am merely attempting to put their knowledge to good use in my own field. Naturally, it is incumbent upon me to report on such applications and their consequences. For certain new things come to light when one transfers the knowledge of one field to another and applies it in practice. Had X-rays remained the exclusive property of the physicist and not been applied in medicine, we would know far less. Then again, if radiation therapy has in some circumstances dangerous consequences, that is interesting to the physician; but it is not necessarily of interest to the physicist, who uses radiation in an altogether different manner and for other purposes. Nor will he think that the physician has poached upon his territory when the latter points out certain harmful or salutary properties of the invisible rays.
If I, for example, apply historical or theological insights in psychotherapy, they naturally appear in a different light and lead to conclusions other than those to which they lead when restricted to their proper fields, where they serve other purposes.
The fact, therefore, that a polarity underlies the dynamics of the psyche means that the whole problem of opposites in its broadest sense, with all its concomitant religious and philosophical aspects, is drawn into the psychological discussion. These aspects lose the autonomous character they have in their own field inevitably so, since they are approached in terms of psychological questions; that is, they are no longer viewed from the angle of religious or philosophical truth, but are examined for their psychological validity and significance. Leaving aside their claim to be independent truths, the fact remains that regarded empirically which is to say, scientifically they are primarily psychic phenomena. This fact seems to me incontestable. That they claim a justification for themselves is in keeping with the psychological approach, which does not brand such a claim unjustified, but on the contrary treats it with special consideration. Psychology has no room for judgments like “only religious” or “only philosophical”.despite the fact that we too often hear the charge of something’s being “only psychological” especially from theologians.
All conceivable statements are made by the psyche. Among other things, the psyche appears as a dynamic process which rests on a foundation of antithesis, on a flow of energy between two poles. It is a general rule of logic that “principles are not to be multiplied beyond the necessary.” Therefore, since interpretation in terms of energy has proved a generally valid principle of explanation in the natural sciences, we must limit ourselves to it in psychology also. No firm facts are available which would recommend some other view; moreover, the antithetical or polaristic nature of the psyche and its contents is verified by psychological experience. 12
Now if the dynamic conception of the psyche is correct, all statements which seek to overstep the limits of the psyche’s polarity statements about a metaphysical reality, for example must be paradoxical if they are to lay claim to any sort of validity.
The psyche cannot leap beyond itself. It cannot set up any absolute truths, for its own polarity determines the relativity of its statements. Wherever the psyche does announce absolute truths such as, for example, “God is motion,” or “God is One” it necessarily falls into one or the other of its own antitheses. For the two statements might equally well be: “God is rest”.or”God is All.” Through one-sidedness the psyche disintegrates and loses its capacity for cognition. It becomes an unreflective (because unreflectable) succession of psychic states, each of which fancies itself its own justification because it does not, or does not yet, see any other state.
In saying this we are not expressing a value judgment, but only pointing out that the limit is very frequently overstepped. Indeed, this is inevitable, for, as Heraclitus says, “Everything is flux”.Thesis is followed by antithesis, and between the two is generated a third factor, a synthesis which was not perceptible before. In this the psyche once again merely demonstrates its antithetical nature and at no point has really got outside itself.
In my effort to depict the limitations of the psyche I do not mean to imply that only the psyche exists. It is merely that, so far as perception and cognition are concerned, we cannot see beyond the psyche. Science is tacitly convinced that a non-psychic, transcendental object exists. But science also knows how difficult it is to grasp the real nature of the object, especially when the organ of perception fails or is lacking, and when the appropriate modes of thought do not exist or have still to be created. In cases where neither our sense organs nor their artificial aids can attest the presence of a real object, the difficulties mount enormously, so that one feels tempted to assert that there is simply no real object present. I have never drawn this overhasty conclusion, for I have never been inclined to think that our senses were capable of perceiving all forms of being. I have, therefore, even hazarded the postulate that the phenomenon of archetypal configurations which are psychic events par excellence may be founded upon a psychoid base, that is, upon an only partially psychic and possibly altogether different form of being. For lack of empirical data I have neither knowledge nor understanding of such forms of being, which are commonly called spiritual. From the point of view of science, it is immaterial what I may believe on that score, and I must accept my ignorance. But insofar as the archetypes act upon me, they are real and actual to me, even though I do not know what their real nature is. This applies, of course, not only to the archetypes but to the nature of the psyche in general. Whatever it may state about itself, it will never get beyond itself. All comprehension and all that is comprehended is in itself psychic, and to that extent we are hopelessly cooped up in an exclusively psychic world. Nevertheless, we have good reason to suppose that behind this veil there exists the uncomprehended absolute object which affects and influences us and to suppose it even, or particularly, in the case of psychic phenomena about which no verifiable statements can be made. Statements concerning possibility or impossibility are valid only in specialized fields; outside those fields they are merely arrogant presumptions.
Prohibited though it may be from an objective point of view to make statements out of the blue that is, without sufficient reason there are nevertheless some statements which apparently have to be made without objective reasons. The justification here is a psychodynamic one, of the sort usually termed subjective and regarded as a purely personal matter. But that is to commit the mistake of failing to distinguish whether the statement really proceeds only from an isolated subject, and is prompted by exclusively personal motives, or whether it occurs generally and springs from a collectively present dynamic pattern. In that case it should not be classed as subjective, but as psychologically objective, since an indefinite number of individuals find themselves prompted by an inner impulse to make an identical statement, or feel a certain view to be a vital necessity. Since the archetype is not just an inactive form, but a real force charged with a specific energy, it may very well be regarded as the causa efficiens of such statements, and be understood as the subject of them. In other words, it is not the personal human being who is making the statement, but the archetype speaking through him. If these statements are stifled or disregarded, both medical experience and common knowledge demonstrate that psychic troubles are in store. These will appear either as neurotic symptoms or, in the case of persons who are incapable of neurosis, as collective delusions.
Archetypal statements are based upon instinctive preconditions and have nothing to do with reason; they are neither rationally grounded nor can they be banished by rational arguments. They have always been part of the world scene representations collectives, as Levy-Bruhl rightly called them. Certainly the ego and its will have a great part to play in life; but what the ego wills is subject in the highest degree to the interference, in ways of which the ego is usually unaware, of the autonomy and numinosity of archetypal processes. Practical consideration of these processes is the essence of religion, insofar as religion can be approached from a psychological point of view.
At this point the fact forces itself on my attention that beside the field of reflection there is another equally broad if not broader area in which rational understanding and rational modes of representation find scarcely anything they are able to grasp. This is the realm of Eros. In classical times, when such things were properly understood, Eros was considered a god whose divinity transcended our human limits, and who therefore could neither be comprehended nor represented in anyway. I might, as many before me have attempted to do, venture an approach to this daimon, whose range of activity extends from the endless spaces of the heavens to the dark abysses of hell; but I falter before the task of finding the language which might adequately express the incalculable paradoxes of love, Eros is a kosmogonos, a creator and father-mother of all higher consciousness. I sometimes feel that Paul’s words ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love” might well be the first condition of all cognition and the quintessence of divinity itself. Whatever the learned interpretation may be of the sentence “God is love,” the words affirm the complexio oppositorum of the Godhead. In my medical experience as well as in my own life I have again and again been faced with the mystery of love, and have never been able to explain what it is. Like Job, I had to ‘lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer” (Job 40:4 f .)
Here is the greatest and smallest, the remotest and nearest, the highest and lowest, and we cannot discuss one side of it without also discussing the other. No language is adequate to this paradox. Whatever one can say, no words express the whole. To speak of partial aspects is always too much or too little, for only the whole is meaningful Love “bears all things” and “endures all things” (i Cor.13:7). These words say all there is to be said; nothing can be added to them. For we are in the deepest sense the victims and the instruments of cosmogonic “love.” I put the word in quotation marks to indicate that I do not use it in its connotations of desiring, preferring, favoring, wishing, and similar feelings, but as something superior to the individual, a unified and undivided whole. Being a part, man cannot grasp the whole. He is at its mercy. He may assent to it, or rebel against it; but he is always caught up by it and enclosed within it. He is dependent upon it and is sustained by it. Love is his light and his darkness, whose end he cannot see. “Love ceases not” whether he speaks with the “tongues of angels,” or with scientific exactitude traces the life of the cell down to its uttermost source. Man can try to name love, showering upon it all the names at his command, and still he will involve himself in endless self- deceptions. If he possesses a grain of wisdom, he will lay down his arms and name the unknown by the more unknown, ignotum per ignotius that is, by the name of God. That is a confession of his subjection, his imperfection, and his dependence; but at the same time a testimony to his freedom to choose between truth and error.
WHEN PEOPLE SAY I am wise, or a sage, I cannot accept it. A man once dipped a hatful of water from a stream. What did that amount to? I am not that stream. I am at the stream, but I do nothing.
Other people are at the same stream, but most of them find they have to do something with it. I do nothing. I never think that I am the one who must see to it that cherries grow on stalks. I stand and behold, admiring what nature can do.
There is a fine old story about a student who came to a rabbi and said, “In the olden days there were men who saw the face of God. Why don’t they any more?” The rabbi replied, “Because nowadays no one can stoop so low”
One must stoop a little in order to fetch water from the stream.
The difference between most people and myself is that for me the “dividing walls” are transparent. That is my peculiarity. Others find these walls so opaque that they see nothing behind them and therefore think nothing is there. To some extent I perceive the processes going on in the background, and that gives me an inner certainty. People who see nothing have no certainties and can draw no conclusions or do not trust them even if they do. I do not know what started me off perceiving the stream of life. Probably the unconscious itself. Or perhaps my early dreams. They determined my course from the beginning.
Knowledge of processes in the background early shaped my relationship to the world. Basically, that relationship was the same in my childhood as it is to this day. As a child I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know. Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible. The loneliness began with the experiences of my early dreams, and reached its climax at the time I was working on the unconscious. If a man knows more than others, he becomes lonely. But loneliness is not necessarily inimical to companionship, for no one is more sensitive to companionship than the lonely man, and companionship thrives only when each individual remembers his individuality and does not identify himself with others.
It is important to have a secret, a premonition of things unknown. It fills life with something impersonal, a numinosum. A man who has never experienced that has missed something important. He must sense that he lives in a world which in some respects is mysterious; that things happen and can be experienced which remain inexplicable; that not everything which happens can be anticipated. The unexpected and the incredible belong in this world. Only then is life whole. For me the world has from the beginning been infinite and ungraspable.
I have had much trouble getting along with my ideas. There was a daimon in me, and in the end its presence proved decisive. It overpowered me, and if I was at times ruthless it was because I was in the grip of the daimon. I could never stop at anything once attained. I had to hasten on, to catch up with my vision. Since my contemporaries, understandably, could not perceive my vision, they saw only a fool rushing ahead.
I have offended many people, for as soon as I saw that they did not understand me, that was the end of the matter so far as I was concerned. I had to move on. I had no patience with people aside from my patients. I had to obey an inner law which was imposed on me and left me no freedom of choice. Of course I did not always obey it. How can anyone live without inconsistency?
For some people I was continually present and close to them so long as they were related to my inner world; but then it might happen that I was no longer with them, because there was nothing left which would link me to them. I had to learn painfully that people continued to exist even when they had nothing more to say to me. Many excited in me a feeling of living humanity, but only when they appeared within the magic circle of psychology; next moment, when the spotlight cast its beam elsewhere, there was nothing to be seen. I was able to become intensely interested in many people; but as soon as I had seen through them, the magic was gone. In this way I made many enemies. A creative person has little power over his own life. He is not free. He is captive and driven by his daimon.
A power wrests away the heart from us,
For the Heavenly Ones each demand sacrifice;
But if it should be withheld
Never has that led to good?”
says Holderlin. This lack of freedom has been a great sorrow to me. Often I felt as if I were on a battlefield, saying, “Now you have fallen, my good comrade, but I must go on.” For “shamefully a power wrests away the heart from us.” I am fond of you, indeed I love you, but I cannot stay. There is something heart-rending about that. And I myself am the victim; I cannot stay. But the daimon manages things so that one comes through, and blessed inconsistency sees to it that in flagrant contrast to my “disloyalty” I can keep faith in unsuspected measure.
Perhaps I might say: I need people to a higher degree than others, and at the same time much less. When the daimon is at work, one is always too close and too far. Only when it is silent can one achieve moderation.
The daimon of creativity has ruthlessly had its way with me. The ordinary undertakings I planned usually had the worst of it though not always and not everywhere. By way of compensation, I think, I am conservative to the bone. I fill my pipe from my grandfather’s tobacco jar and still keep his alpenstock, topped with a chamois horn, which he brought back from Pontresina after having been one of the first guests at that newly opened Kurort.
I am satisfied with the course my life has taken. It has been bountiful, and has given me a great deal. How could I ever have expected so much? Nothing but unexpected things kept happening to me. Much might have been different if I myself had been different. But it was as it had to be; for all came about because I am as I am. Many things worked out as I planned them to, but that did not always prove of benefit to me. But almost everything developed naturally and by destiny. I regret many follies which sprang from my obstinacy; but without that trait I would not have reached my goal. And so I am disappointed and not disappointed. I am disappointed with people and disappointed with myself. I have learned amazing things from people, and have accomplished more than I expected of myself. I cannot form any final judgment because the phenomenon of life and the phenomenon of man are too vast. The older I have become, the less I have understood or had insight into or known about myself.
I am astonished, disappointed, pleased with myself. I am distressed, depressed, rapturous. I am all these things at once, and cannot add up the sum. I am incapable of determining ultimate worth or worthlessness; I have no judgment about myself and my life. There is nothing I am quite sure about. I have no definite convictions not about anything, really. I know only that I was born and exist, and it seems to me that I have been carried along. I exist on the foundation of something I do not know. In spite of all uncertainties, I feel a solidity underlying all existence and a continuity in my mode of being.
The world into which we are born is brutal and cruel, and at the same time of divine beauty. Which element we think outweighs the other, whether meaninglessness or meaning, is a matter of temperament. If meaninglessness were absolutely preponderant, the meaningfulness of life would vanish to an increasing degree with each step in our development. But that is or seems to me not the case. Probably, as in all metaphysical questions, both are true: Life is or has meaning and meaninglessness. I cherish the anxious hope that meaning will preponderate and win the battle.
When Lao-tzu says: “All are clear, I alone am clouded,” he is expressing what I now feel in advanced old age. Lao-tzu is the example of a man with superior insight who has seen and experienced worth and worthlessness, and who at the end of his life desires to return into his own being, into the eternal unknowable meaning. The archetype of the old man who has seen enough is eternally true. At every level of intelligence this type appears, and its lineaments are always the same, whether it be an old peasant or a great philosopher like Lao-tzu. This is old age, and a limitation. Yet there is so much that fills me: plants, animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man. The more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things. In fact it seems to me as if that alienation which so long separated me from the world has become transferred into my own inner world, and has revealed to me an unexpected unfamiliarity with myself.
- In the original sense of the Greek theorein, ‘looking about the world,” or the German Weltanschauung. A. J. ↩
- See Aion ( CW 9, u), pp. 8a ff. ↩
- See above, Chap. VII, n. , p. 202. ↩
- 4 Codex Bezae ad Lucam 6, 4. ↩
- Reproduced in The Archetypes and the Collects Unconscious (CW 9, i), p. 297. ↩
- 6 In the commentary to The Secret of the Golden Flower ( 1931) (CW 13). ↩
- One of the meanings of symbolon is the tessera hospitalitatis between host and guest, the broken coin which is shared between two parting friends. A. J. ↩
- “Transformation Symbolism in the Mass,” in Psychology and Religion: West and East (CW1 1), pp. 249-50 ↩
- Philippians 2: 6. ↩
- The constellation of Capricorn was originally called the “Goat-Fish.” ↩
- Faust, Part Two. ↩
- Cf. “On Psychic Energy,” in The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (CW8). ↩